Marketing Lessons from Moneyball

or What Baseball Can Teach Business about Marketing

Last night, my husband and I went to see Moneyball.  Neither of us are baseball fans but we are movie buffs and watching a movie at your local theater is a good thing to do on a rainy day.  If you haven’t seen MoneyballMoneyball, do.  Then you can tell me if the following observations are on target.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story of Moneyball, it is about Billy Beane, Manager of the Oakland As. After a fantastic season, Oakland lost three of its best players to other teams with deep pockets.  This was as it had always been.  Baseball organizations in smaller markets did all of the recruiting, training and grunt work to polish rough recruits into players and the Big Boys would swoop in and cherry pick the polished talent with more money.

It had to change.  But the question was how.  His baseball recruiters
were locked into old habits, wives tales and superstitions of a process that was over 100 years in the making.  How was he going to undo that mindset?

I’m not going to give away the movie.  You’re going to have to get to the theaters.  But what I am going to do is share with you some of the business and marketing lessons Moneyball illustrated to me.  Think of the Oakland As as a small business when compared to larger regional or national chains and multinational corporations.

1.  Adapt of perish.  This philosophy has never been more true than in 2011.  Times have been tough on business in general and particularly for small business.   When a business process that used to work doesn’t any more, it is your clear sign it is time to make a drastic change.  The game  of business and of marketing has changed forever in the last decade.  Some small business owners have adapted their marketing.  Most haven’t.  To continue to play, to have a shot at being successful, one has to be willing to adapt.

2.  Actively search for new ideas.  You don’t have to come up with the business or marketing strategy.  There are plenty of ideas all around us.  You just have to be smart enough to grab it and make it work.  Pick it up, analyze it and if you think it can work for your business, make it part of your business process.

3.  Analyze the data.  This one is easy for me because research is in my DNA, but it isn’t a natural course of action for others.  The numbers of a business hold  gold nuggets of information that always lead to better business decisions.  Look at your numbers every day or every week with fresh eyes.  Analyze your sales, your process, your customers.  Find out which variables drive sales.  Over time you’ll be able to turn this data into a powerful sales engine for your small business.

4.  Be committed to changing the game and you’ll change the industry.  You can’t sort of make a few tweaks and see if it works.  You have to be committed to your course of action and be willing to shake things up.  This is a tough lesson because there will be plenty of naysayers telling you why what you’re doing is all wrong. That’s not the way the game is played.  But the naysayers still believe in the old ways, business as usual.  You can’t listen to them.  You have to go for broke.

5.  Get everyone in your business on board.  Let everyone in your organization know what you are doing and why.  Explain their role in this change and your expectations.  You may be surprised at their positive response.

These business and marketing lessons from  Moneyball are nothing new.  But it is good to be reminded of what it takes to achieve success and to have that reminder come in such an entertaining package.

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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